Saturday, November 5, 2011

Praying in Your Sleep

Is God the last thing that you think about before you go to bed and the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning?  

Sometimes I have difficulty falling asleep and I was going through one of those spurts a couple of weeks ago.  When I mentioned it to Fr. Larry he gave me a good suggestion.  He gently said: “Tonight, when you’re trying to fall asleep meditate on the Good Shepherd.  He’ll protect you.  He’s got you inside the gate.  Whatever you are worried about leave it outside the gate and just rest with him.”  

So that night as I was trying to go to sleep I did that.  It was such a simple suggestion, but it worked.  As I was going to sleep anything that caused me any anxiety I just imagined leaving it outside of the gate and the Good Shepherd closing the gate and saying “Don’t worry about that, it will be there tomorrow, just rest with me.”  I had to do this a number of times with all the things I was worried about, until finally I could just be with him, no worries, no carries, just rest.  I slept like a baby.  I woke up the next morning peaceful, joyful, and grateful.  There was something very wonderful about being able to sleep safe in the care of the Good Shepherd.  

What do you fall asleep thinking about at night?  

What was different about that night?  

What was different about that night is that I fell asleep meditating on the truth.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  He’s got us in his care.  We are inside the gate, safe, protected, nothing to worry about.  Just graze in the green grass beside restful waters.  Much better than being focused on what I have to do in the morning, being worried about something I did or something someone said, thinking about something I had just read in the news, or seen on TV.  

Jesus tells us to pray always… Does that mean even when we are resting or sleeping?

Here are some excerpts from today’s readings that do indicate that we can and meditate on God from the time that we go to bed until the time that we wake up in the morning. 

Psalm 63
I will remember you upon my couch,
and through the night-watches I will meditate on you:
The psalmist delights in remembering God in times of rest.  “I will remember you upon my couch.” 
What’s the first thing that you do when you lay down on the couch?
 Grab the paper?  Grab the remote?  Grab the bag of chips?  What if that became a time just to rest with the Lord?  What if instead of grabbing the remote and just numbing yourself in TV you remembered the Lord for a moment?  

Here are just a few ways of doing this.  Sit for some time in silence and just rest.  Enjoy the sun coming through the window, or the sound of silence.  Notice the trees outside.  Delight that you finally have this time to rest with the Lord.  Thank Him for something good in your day.  Keep your bible on the coffee table so you can pick it up and meditate on one of the psalms or your favorite parable.  Pray the Rosary meditating on the life of Christ.  Spend some time journaling or reflecting.  How will this transform your afternoon or evening?  Can you imagine the peace, the rejuvenation, the joy?  

and through the night-watches I will meditate on you:
What if you kept some of these things by your bed so that when you wake up in the middle of the night instead of worrying or tossing and turning or watching an infomercial, you could meditate on the Lord? 
Maybe it’s a picture of the good shepherd, or an image of Jesus, an icon or painting.  You could fall asleep to your favorite parable, psalm, the creation story, or meditating on the daily readings or best of all the reading for the upcoming Sunday.  Wouldn’t that bring much more peace than watching those late night infomercials: Ms. Cleo’s Psychic hotline, Ginsu steak knife, ShamWow, or the Snuggie?  

How much deeper could our sleep be if we immersed ourselves in Jesus and meditated on Him in those last moments of consciousness? 

The book of Wisdom invites us:
and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
shall quickly be free from care;

The dictionary defines a vigil as this: A vigil (from the Latin vigilia, meaning wakefulness) is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance. The Italian word vigilia has become generalized in this sense and means "eve"

Do you have this “purposeful sleeplessness?”  This time of “devotional watching” sometime in the evening? 

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus warns us in the parable of the 10 virgins with the lamp:
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour."

The catechism makes it very clear that if we don’t make the time for prayer it isn’t going to happen. 
The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state.  (2710)

Finally, what is the first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning? 

Is Jesus the first thing that we think of when we wake up in the morning? 

In today’s 1st reading from the book of Wisdom we are given great hope that if we think of Him first in the morning, he will be there for us all day…
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.

What if the first thing that we did when we woke up I the morning was meditated on Jesus?  Imagine how our day would be transformed if before we did anything else… check our phone for texts, emails, missed calls, read the paper, turned on the TV… we prayed.  

This could be as simple as opening the bible to that favorite psalm or parable of yours.  Maybe it just kneeling down beside your bed and saying your favorite prayer.  I always begin my day by lying down prostrate before the crucifix and giving my day, my life to the Lord.  If we did something like this we would find him “wisdom sitting by our gate.”  We would find the Lord right there at our bedroom door just sitting and waiting to join us and be with us throughout our day.  

Jesus can be the last thing that we think of before we go to bed at night and the first thing that we think of when we wake up in the morning and Oh how much more peaceful, joyful, and prayerful our lives would really be. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much Fr for this enlightment


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